The Pregame: Barry Trotz Returns to D.C.

The Washington Capitals are back home looking to snap a three-game slide when they host the New York Islanders for a 7:30 p.m. puck drop. This contest isn’t just your ordinary Metropolitan Division matchup, however, instead it marks the return of an important figure that led the Capitals to championship greatness. Barry Trotz coached the Caps for four seasons, ending his tenure with the first Stanley Cup in both the history of the franchise and the coach’s resume. When the season ended, the two sides between Trotz and General Manager Brian MacLellan didn’t reach an agreement on an extension which allowed Trotz to walk and take a coaching job at the island. 

This game marks the second meeting between the two teams this season. The Caps won the first meeting on Nov. 26 at Barclay’s Center with a 4-1 victory. Prior to that game Trotz, along with fellow assistants Lane Lambert and Mitch Korn that followed him, were presented with their Stanley Cup rings.

Tonight is sure to be an emotional night for Trotz and the former players that worked under his wing. There will be a video tribute at some point during the game that will be moving for both the Capitals players and fans and even the man himself but Trotz said he’ll be fine during all the hoopla surrounding his return.

“Emotionally, I’ll be fine. I’m a softie when… I’ll cry when I’m watching ‘The Notebook’ when it’s on TV. But I think I’ll be okay,” said Trotz in an interview with Islanders writer for NHL.com Brian Compton.

Trotz noted that he didn’t think there would be a video tribute of him but it’s a tradition the Caps have done over the years every time a significant former player makes his return to D.C. for the first time with their new team. Now the Caps will do it for a former but very significant bench boss.

“I wasn’t there that long, so I’m a little bit surprised that they would do that. But I’m thakful and appreciate of that,” said Trotz.

Trotz led the Capitals to a 205-89-34 record in four seasons behind the Washington bench. There is no doubt Trotz will be inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame when he retires and he will always be remembered in Washington with four exciting seasons, two occasions boasting the best record in the NHL, and ending that chapter with a Stanley Cup after years of playoff hearbreak for the coach and the city.

While tonight is significant for a look back on a great coach that led his team to glory, the Caps mission is to beat their former coach’s team tonight and remain afloat at the top of the division. Both teams are separated by one point in the Metropolitan Division sitting at second and third place, although Washington has an identical 59 points to the listed first-place Blue Jackets. The Islanders sitting in third is a pleasant surprise to New York fans that were upset after their star free agent John Tavares opted to sign with the Maple Leafs over the summer.

 

MORNING SKATE LINES

Braden Holtby, after having problems with his eyes leading Pheonix Copley starting in goal the last two games, told Isabelle Khurshudyan of The Washington Post that he will play tonight.

CAPS FACTS

  • Washington holds a 108-88-13-6 record against the Islanders.
  • The night not only belongs to Trotz: The Caps will hold a pregame ceremony honoring Brooks Orpik’s 1,000th career NHL game which he played on Monday night against the St. Louis Blues.
  • Nicklas Backstrom scored his 12th goal of the season Tuesday night in Nasville, his fifth power play goal of the season and the 70th of his career. Backstrom passed Mike Ridley (60 PPG) for fifth on the Capitals’ all-time power play goals list and needs just three more power play goals to pass Dale Hunter.
  • Alex Ovechkin leads the NHL with 33 goals this season as he aims to break a tie with Bobby Hull for most seasons as the NHL’s goal-scoring leader. Both have led the league in goals for seven seasons.
  • T.J. Oshie played in his 700th NHL game against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night, becoming the seventh forward from his draft class to reach the 700-game mark.
  • In their last 18 games against Eastern Conference opponents, Washington holds a 16-1-1 record and have outscored opponents 67-37.
  • The Caps have earned a point in 15 of their last 19 games against the Islanders (12-4-3).
  • Ovechkin has recorded 53 points (35 goals, 18 assists) in 51 career games against the Islanders.

PREGAME LINKS
Game Notes
Mike Vogel’s Game Preview
Barry Trotz’s return eight months after Stanley Cup an unprecedented moment in D.C. sports by Brian McNally/NBC Sports Washington
Might be hard to keep emotions in check for Trotz’s return – at least for Trotz by Tarik El-Bashir/The Athletic

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